PURPOSE: A prominent age-associated malady is sarcopenia which is muscle weakness resulting from the deterioration of motor unit remodeling leading to denervating muscle atrophy and irreversible degeneration of the muscle cells. Moderate resistance training enhances protein synthesis and retards the normal, age-related loss of muscle mass and strength and is an effective means of maintaining or increasing strength. Resistance training for those over 65 can significantly improve voluntary muscle strength bone density, and dynamic balance. However, standard weight lifting can be intimidating for some elderly individuals unfamiliar with resistance training. Recent development in resistance training equipment involves powered exercise equipment that move selected levers at pre-determined speeds. Participants do not resist the movement, but apply force with the lever movement, thus attempting to accelerate the action of the machine. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of power-assisted exercises on muscle strength in elderly men. METHODS: Subjects (N = 21) (Age 81.9 ± 5.0 yrs) were separated into control (C = 9) and exercise (E = 11) groups. The E group trained 12 weeks, 2/wk for 30 min per session. Training involved trunk, upper and lower body muscles. Pre- and post- measures were collected on: arm curl (AC), bench press (BP), leg extension (LE), and triceps extension. RESULTS: Analysis yielded significant E group improvements in all the variables: arm curl (p<0.001), bench press (p = 0.018), leg extension (p<0.001), and triceps extension (p<0.00) when compared to the control group. Proportional E group improvements were: AC = 36%, BP = 74%, LE = 35%, TE = 32%. CONCLUSIONS: It was concluded that the use of power assisted isokinetic machines are effective in increasing muscle strength in elderly men. Practical Applications: Power assisted machines provides a safe and effective alternative to free weights in order to improve strength in elderly males.
Health & Human Performance, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK